Background: Qigong is an ancient form of health maintenance, dating back thousands of years, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Numerous physical as well as mental benefits have been classically ascribed to this traditional mind-body method which integrates slow body movements, breathing, and meditation. Albeit we have already reported an immunomodulatory action of qigong in other investigations, measures were then assessed 1 day after the qigong program ended.
Purpose: The aim of the present study was to assess the acute effects of Taoist qigong practice on immune cell counts in healthy subjects 1 h after training.
Method: Forty-three healthy subjects participated in the study of whom 25 were randomly allocated to the experimental group and 18 to the control group. The experimental subjects underwent daily qigong training for 1 month. Blood samples for the quantification of immune parameters (number and percentage of monocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, total lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and natural killer (NK) cells) were taken the day before the experiment commenced and 1 h after the last session of the training program ended. As statistical analysis, analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed.
Results: Statistically significant differences were found between the experimental and control groups, with the experimental group showing higher values in the number (p = 0.006) and the percentage (p = 0.04) of B lymphocytes, as well as lower values in the percentage of NK cells (p = 0.05), as compared to control.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that Taoist qigong is able to exert acute immunomodulatory effects on components of both innate as well as adaptive immune response.
Keywords: Holistic; Immune; Mind-body; Psychosomatic; Qigong.